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Comparison of DMR and TETRA
Current and predicted future functionality
This paper provides a comparison between two European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) open standards for digital radio: Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) and Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA).
The paper examines the features and functionality of each of the technologies, as they exist in the drafted standards. It will also compare what products are available in the marketplace, and what products and developments are expected in the future. TETRA is already a mature and well supported standard that is well suited to the needs of the emergency services and other ‘mission critical’ purposes, as well as professional users. DMR, on the other hand, is still developing, and it remains to be seen whether manufacturers will support the variety of modes that are likely to emerge. What DMR does provide today is a solution for the consumer and commercial user starting from the lower end of the scale. The middle ground – business critical and general business use in the lower categories – is where both standards are vying for customers. And although this means more choice for users, it may also mean more confusion about the options available. The DMR standard History The work on DMR in ETSI started in 2003, and replaced the Digital Information Interchange Signalling (DIIS) work. The aim of DIIS was a new digital radio standard for professional business radio users, providing low-complexity two-way radios with mobiles, portables and base stations. This work stalled in 2003/2004, and did not come to fruition due to IPR problems and commercial deadlock. The DMR standard has been developed within Task Group (TG) DMR, which is under the Technical Body EMC and Radio Spectrum Matters (ERM). Its target was the ‘licence-exempt’ and ‘licensed’ professional mobile radio (PMR) market. There are a number of PMR manufacturers involved in the standards activity.
Figure 1: Overview of DMR tiers [Source: Analysys Mason] Tier III: Licensed, Trunked Tier II: Licensed, Conventional DMR systems operating under individual spectrum licences working in direct mode or using a base station (BS) as a repeater DMR trunking systems under individual spectrum licences operating with a controller function that automatically regulates the communications

DMR is intended to be a digital replacement for conventional analogue PMR radios, as well as shared repeater systems and MPT 1327 trunked radio systems. The DMR standard was first published in 2005, and has had a number of maintenance updates. Equipment became available in the marketplace from mid 2007 onwards. DMR characteristics There are several levels of the DMR standard. DMR is divided into three tiers.
Tier I: Unlicensed

DMR equipment having an integral antenna and working in direct mode (communication without infrastructure)

In practice, the DMR standard currently covers Tiers I, II and III. A separate standard, created by the same group, and known as dPMR, provides, at the moment, only a Tier I solution. Both Tier I DMR and dPMR standards, which are for unlicensed use, operate with a maximum power of 500mW, and use frequency division multiple access (FDMA), with respectively a 12.5KHz and 6.25KHz channel. They are intended as a replacement for PMR 446. PMR 446 is a part of the UHF radio frequency range that is open without licensing for personal usage in most countries of the European Union.


protected data rates per slot will be no greater than 2. IPv4 • short data services carried over Packet Data Protocol (PDP) – these can be Free text. DMR services DMR is capable of carrying both voice and packet data protocol services. and fit within the existing emission mask.400 bits/second. and two-slot time-division multiple access (TDMA) is used.800 bits/second.600bps (4. The 4FSK modulation used is designed to meet both European and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) emission masks. and encryption could be added as an external/terminal application. 146MHz to 174MHz and 400MHz to 470MHz. Encryption is not part of the standard. have support for voice and circuit mode data.800 symbols/s). Again. Inc. earlier analogue solutions. Individual and Group Calls can operate in Open Voice Channel Mode (this replicates the conventional open channel mode users are familiar with. pre-defined data types. (DVSI) has been selected by the DMR MoU group as the preferred vocoder for interoperability. one control and one traffic). equipment on the marketplace uses only the DVSI AMBE vocoder. so any vocoder has to be compatible with the air interface. The data rates when using two slots will be double the rates when using only one slot. A fixed key version of encryption is today available in equipment on the marketplace. At the moment. this may result in interoperability issues. the advanced multiband excitation (AMBE) vocoder from Digital Voice Systems. Individual calls can be Press and Talk Call Set Up (PATCS) and Off Air Call Set Up (OACSU). but is more challenging in a two-slot TDMA system and is not commonly implemented in current DMR terminals. The standard is designed so that DMR channels can directly replace existing 12.5kHz analogue channels to DMR. but the ‘vocoder socket’ (format of vocoder payload) is. Data services can be either single or dual slot. with many contracts delivered from 2000. and is typically 1. However. in particular the TETRA Enhanced Data Services (TEDS) work.5kHz. Each voice burst in the two-slot TDMA carrier provides a ‘vocoder socket’ for 2 × 108 bits vocoder payload to carry 60 ms of compressed speech The constant envelope modulation makes the design of the radio r. using the two-slot TDMA mechanism.All DMR tiers have a channel bandwidth of 12. but not packet data. With an air interface data rate of 9. with a 4FSK constant envelope modulation. with a two-fold improvement in channel efficiency. and allows them to monitor and participate in voice channel activity). Data services include: • IP Packet Data (confirmed and unconfirmed – also known as acknowledged/unacknowledged).f. which checks the called party’s radio is available before allocating a channel.600 bits/second for both channels. such as ASCII. or raw data (unformatted). This gives the user the appearance of a full duplex call without the radio having to transmit and receive at the same time.f.5kHz channels. Since 2000 there have been updates to the standard. DMR is expected to operate on any frequency between 30MHz and 1GHz. They can also have talking party identification and late entry. These are the traditional PMR bands. This feature is also available in the four-slot TETRA TDMA system. The DMR Tier III trunking standard aims to provide a lowcomplexity trunked solution for voice and data applications. Voice services include: • Individual Call (point to point) • Group Call (point to multipoint) • All Call (one-way voice call to all users) • Broadcast (one-way group call). Status/Pre-coded (which are coded messages). components easier. channel carrying two logical channels (for example. but will mainly be used in 68MHz to 87. This provides a capability to migrate from 12. within a user’s existing channel assignments.5MHz. . The codec is not standardised within the ETSI standard. the air interface operates at a transmission rate of 9. Individual calls can be duplex. which have increased the functionality. The use of two-slot TDMA means the minimum can be a single site with one r. which gives two bits per symbol. The TETRA standard History TETRA is an open digital trunked radio standard defined by ETSI to meet the needs of the PMR user. The standard was defined during the 1990s and equipment became available in the marketplace from 1997 onwards. such as MPT 1327. Since there are other codecs being advertised as suitable for DMR – especially the Robust Advanced Low Complexity Waveform Interpolation (RALCWI) CML Microcircuits codec – this weakens the interoperability position. and use a slotted aloha random access mechanism. The use of TDMA and a digital codec will make monitoring of the signal more difficult than analogue. which increases complexity. Control channels can be dedicated or composite (shared between control and traffic). For readers interested in the technical characteristics.

so that users can be sure there is genuine interoperability. Timeslots can be concatenated to allow higher data rates. where terminals from one supplier are tested for compatibility with terminals from another supplier. short data and IP packet data services (single and multi-slot) • data call concurrent with a voice call. most systems do not use the unprotected data rate. TETRA characteristics TETRA is a TDMA technology with four timeslots in a 25kHz bandwidth.2kbit/s per TDMA channel (the difference between 28. including a strong contingent of public safety users. There are preferred bands where equipment is available: 380–400MHz. while data rates for a timeslot are 7.4kbit/s and protection of 2.6kbit/s with high protection. and the features developed by suppliers were those needed by the users. and continues to examine requirements before they are passed to the other technical working groups. The ACELP codec was optimised for use in a high noise environment. The codec is standardised. Other features which are common to both public safety and PAMR users are: • full duplex voice calls (without any r. The Working Group WG1 is led by users. including the 300–344MHz band in Russia. TETRA uses a pi/4 Differential Quadrature Phase Shift Keying (DQPSK) modulation. • mobile equipments used as Repeaters (Direct Mode to Direct Mode) or Gateways (Direct Mode to Trunked Mode) • fast call set up (sub 300-500ms) . with a bit rate of 36kbit/s. This included testing the codec for high noise environments.8kbit/s (4*7. and the 805–870MHz band.8kbit/s medium protection.2kbit/s with medium protection or 9. channel is 18 ksymbol/s (2 bits per symbol). which means that the data rate on the r.f. It also has a number of services important to the public access mobile radio (PAMR) user: • call forwarding • call barring.8kbit/s. The modulation signal does not go through the zero crossing point.Early TETRA committees had both manufacturers and potential users. However. This assists in the reduction of out of band emissions. In practice. including the services essential for public safety. Services TETRA has a wide range of services. and provision for end-to-end encryption. which is often available for users outside the EU. pi/4 DQPSK is a four-level modulation scheme. but instead use 4. with restriction on coverage of a group • Dynamic Group Number Assignment • Ambience Listening • Discreet Listening • Air Interface Encryption. This interoperability testing also applies to Direct Mode. up to 28. duplexer in the radio terminal and inherent in the TDMA protocol) • direct mode unit to unit calls The gross bit rate is 36kbit/s.8kbit/s medium protection and 2.2) and 36kbit/s is an overhead of the TDMA structure). making it a robust modulation.2kbit/s unprotected. such as: • Individual (point to point) with hook or direct call signalling • Group (point to multipoint) • Pre-emptive Priority • Late Entry • Wide-area Group Call. to ensure it would be suitable for typical public safety usage. ensuring the encryption was suitable for the range of public safety users. equipment is available for other bands. who drove the specification to provide a standard that was suitable for the marketplace. • status. 4. An important part of TETRA is the Interoperability Process (IOP).8kbit/s unprotected. 410–430MHz and 450–470MHz. Speech uses an ACELP codec with a data rate of 4. 19. and evaluated with sirens and gunshots. and provides test sessions where suppliers check terminals against infrastructure. and is part of the TETRA standard.4kbit/s high protection.f. with 7. the 350–370MHz band in China. and the design of the linear power amplifier. which is managed by the TETRA Association.

5kHz spectrum they may be able to use it in 25 kHz channel assignments for TETRA. very high levels of availability. DMR is targeted to be for ‘business critical’ applications.25kHz FDMA. Icom.Comparison and products available Comparison of the standards TETRA is recognised to be primarily for ‘mission critical’ applications. and has announced plans to have DMR terminals available during 2009. which are selling into markets such as shopping centres and airports. or want to pay for. they may struggle to obtain suitable 2 kHz spectrum allocations which are required for TETRA. TETRA has generally not been successful in providing PAMR services Figure 2 shows that the standards are complementary for the lower tiers of DMR.5kHz spectrum. as opposed to systems with a large central switch. public safety DMR Tier III Licensed Trunking are single site system requirements which need a full feature set including data. since there is an increasing number of users – transportation and utilities. This can be seen in Figure 2 below. Selex is offering the ECOS-D simulcast system.000 radio terminals sold worldwide. which includes a network of Tier II base stations. but that there is overlap and competition between TETRA and the higher tiers of DMR. but a number of other suppliers of such products are involved in the DMR standards creation activity. CTE International. Motorola offers the MOTOTRBO product range of Tier II products. There are also now a number of users who are commercial users. shopping centres TETRA Licensed Trunking e. There have been up to 200. This is a level below ‘mission critical’. CML. This extends the number of applications where the standard can be used from consumer and commercial uses. These operate on 6. DMR Tier II products have been sold in the UK to solutions such as logistics (warehousing) for Boots Ltd and a shopping centre in Cumbernauld. and DMR often have 16 digital channels and eight analogue channels (operating in the PMR 446 band). and is for users who need reliable communications. At this time. and systems with distributed processing. through to more critical and complex uses in public safety. and badged Motorola equipment. but be able to deploy DMR without having to change their spectrum allocations. Scotland. and TETRA is positioned to compete here with DMT Tier II. through to different professional modes. a TETRA solution for a shopping centre would be in direct competition with a Tier III DMR solution. For example. Tait has said it intends to produce DMR Tier III equipment (which will also support Tier II). Such competition that gives end users choice is healthy. including handportables. There are a lot of application developers producing applications suitable for DMR. for example – where a highly resilient system is required. from the construction and haulage industry. although there may not be a direct impact on traditional public safety. DMR has a number of tiers (or flavours). The term ‘mission critical’ is used rather than ‘public safety’. a Japanese supplier of PMR terminals. Note that if they have contiguous 12. Other suppliers who are active in the DMR/dPMR standardisation activities include Fylde Microsystems.g.g. and early systems did not appeal to the commercial and lower tier professional users mainly because of the high cost of the early systems which were targeted at large regional/national public safety systems. HYT is a new Chinese supplier of TETRA terminals. mobiles and a repeater. Kenwood and Vertex Standard. While TETRA is a trunked radio system. If a low or mid tier professional user has existing 12. Products available DMR products At the consumer end of the market there are dPMR licence-exempt handportable equipments. but do not need. DMR Tier II Licensed Conventional DMR and dPMR Tier I Unlicensed Conventional Consumer Figure 2: There is significant overlap between TETRA and DMR in the lower to mid professional tiers [Source: Analysys Mason] TETRA is not suitable for the consumer. TETRA High tier Professional Mid tier Professional Low tier Professional Commercial TETRA Licensed Trunking e. airports. One significant differentiator between the standards could be spectrum. is the only supplier with a radio on the market in Tier I. and an increasing number of ‘business critical’ applications. There are now smaller capacity systems. There .

becomes increasingly attractive. with remote controls. based on developments to date. the efficiency of a 6. and smaller. but will be suitable for licensed bands and provide the so-called dPMR Modes 1. Some suppliers are considering developing TEDS (TETRA Enhanced Data Services is discussed in the following section) only data terminals. could be lower cost compared to the professional high tier product. One of the largest systems to date is the Airwave system in the UK. with built in GPS and colour screens. and longer battery life. It remains to be seen if the market will support all these DMR/dPMR variations. As more spectrum becomes tradable. dPMR Mode 2 is equivalent to DMR Tier II (Low complexity repeater) and dPMR Mode 3 is equivalent to DMR Tier III (High throughput repeater/trunked). including the low and mid tier professional users.25kHz. to provide data capabilities.r. 2 and 3 which provide peer-to-peer licensed. These systems can be centralised or distributed control. and the cost to the user increases. There are a number of covert radios. although the majority of terminals sold are portable. to scalable systems that can cover a complete country. there will be both dPMR FDMA and DMR 2slot TDMA options for DMR. of 500mW.5kHz) Peer to peer Tier I (Unlicensed) Mode 1 TS 102 361 FDMA (dPMR) (6. Recently. There are still MPT 1327 trunked systems being sold to a range of users. or are planning to develop TETRA products. as well as repeater (simple and complex) operation. with three Modes.25kHz FDMA. The new FDMA variant (specification number TS 102 658). with short battery life. for use in hazardous environments. These radios are coming from suppliers active in the PMR markets. who has a need for a very robust reliable radio. There will be three ETSI specifications in place. The users being targeted are generally the professional user. More than thirty terminals have been launched in the last three years. There is now a TETRA PDA device. It is believed that most suppliers will continue with the TDMA standard. so while some users would like a very small terminal similar to a modern phone. with perhaps a hinged or extending unit. and better suited from a price perspective for use in the mid and low tier professional systems. which range from small systems that can control fewer than 10 sites. and a number of people integrating the TETRA radio with a portable computer. alternative. rather than small cellphone style.000 subscribers. Tier III of DMR is a logical successor for these. and these have a fast development cycle. and was licence exempt. TDMA(DMR) (12.25kHz) TS 102 490 TS 102 658 TS 102 361 TS 102 361 TS 102 658 TS 102 361 TS 102 658 There is still a need for vehicular radios. The dPMR specification number TS 102 490 was specifically for peer-to-peer operation with a channel spacing of 6. a number of Far East manufacturers have either launched TETRA products. with over 3. . Developments and future products DMR There is a work item in the DMR standards committee to develop an FDMA version (based upon the FDMA modulation in the current Tier I dPMR standard TS 102 490) of the current TDMA Tier II/III standard (DMR standard specification number TS 102 361) on the basis that this can offer a less complex and hence lower cost Managed repeater (trunked) Mode 3 Simple repeater Mode 2 Tier III (Unlicensed)Tier II Tier II Figure 3: The different DMR Standard specification document numbers [Source: Analysys Mason] It is anticipated that future DMR products will be developed at both the low end of the market. and there will be limited supplier development of the FDMA standard. this market is small and not served at present. There are many suppliers making terminals. will operate with a channel spacing of 6. MPT 1327 is a trunked standard which is still viable. First generation TETRA terminals were large. Current terminals are now third or fourth generation. There are also a small number of Intrinsically Safe (IS) radios. and the top end. but these tend to be designed to be hidden.25 kHz equivalent technology (compared to 12.000 sites and over 200. One of the smallest systems is North Sydney Hospital with a single base station and 12 terminals. whether it is FDMA two-slot TDMA (DMR) or four-slot TDMA (TETRA). giving six (seven if unlicensed dPMR is included) different options for users. Effectively dPMR Mode 1 is equivalent to DMR Tier II (peer to peer). although TETRA is a direct competitor here.TETRA products There is a wide range of TETRA products available at the current time. These include infrastructure products.p. Once this is developed. had an e. with active developments. or whether manufacturers will only develop specific pieces of the standard.5kHz).

However. with a competitive supplier market driving more infrastructure and terminal solutions. TETRA The TETRA standard is mature. with support for the 50kHz channel bandwidth initially. The most significant work done under TETRA2 is TEDS. to provide emergency voice communications and travel information for a bus fleet. Conclusion ETSI has developed two standards for mobile radio users. and these user categories are covered by DMR. While TETRA is now a mature technology. which are both air interface optimised applications for location services. Stun/Kill. Part of the work under TETRA2 has been to: • extend the working range of the air interface. and these were given the name TETRA Release 2. This is likely to be in stages. These standards are DMR and TETRA. The bonus is that TEDS is integrated into the TETRA standard. The next terminal developments in TETRA will be to incorporate the TEDS air interface. where both standards are suitable. This has been the case with Location Information Protocol (LIP) and Net Assist Protocol (NAP). in the low and medium tier professional user category. including oil and gas production. and a wider range of solutions which better match their requirements. from the PMR 446 licence-exempt use for consumers and some business users. which cover the whole range of applications. This is known as TETRA Enhanced Data Services (TEDS). There is an increase in TETRA solutions for transportation and utilities. but significant. This is where there could be an increasing overlap between TETRA and DMR. The TEDS development work to the TETRA Air Interface has provided the capability for moderate. and often these will be smaller systems. increases in data speed. One example would be a system for the security staff in a large shopping mall. and the business critical user (such as a bus operator) to the mission critical user (such as a police force). TTETRA does not provide a solution for the consumer and this is covered by the dPMR (license exempt) equipment. However. and DMR does not. such as HSDPA. and the costs could vary depending on the precise solution. On a case-by-case basis. this is good news for these business radio users. This means that for the professional user. TETRA clearly meets the requirements for the mission critical user. there is no reason to believe a healthy competitive supplier environment will not develop. and then data terminals supporting the full TEDS standard. DMR products from a similar range of suppliers are still to be developed. These data rates are not as fast as the enhanced 3G data rates. and will provide mission critical data for professional users. the emphasis will be on systems that are able to meet the smaller system size requirements. and no design target of minimum call set up times in the user requirement. At the moment TETRA will meet its requirements. Users and suppliers identified a number of areas where the TETRA standard would benefit from enhancements. . These have been achieved by increases in channel bandwidth and increased modulation complexity. Data rates achievable are up to 160kbit/s using 64QAM in a 50kHz channel. where both technologies could meet the requirement. On the other hand. and to be developed with additional functionality. and whether the market will support both variants. there are a wide range of business critical and general business users. a shopping centre which has only 10 or 20 security staff using a fourslot TDMA TETRA radio scheme would be very inefficient in its spectrum usage. but are better than GPRS. in terms of features and cost. There is a distinct risk that the parallel standards will fragment the market and cause confusion. an oil production company may not need encryption. For example. for ground air/rural telephone and linear network applications • develop alternative codecs. makes DMR unsuitable for this category of user. There will be improvements in the hand-held terminal size and weight. there will be more choice. From a standards point of view the lack of authentication/encryption. while a single Tier II DMR repeater could easily meet the user requirements.It is difficult to predict what the impact of parallel FDMA and TDMA DMR systems will have. while DMR will not. but will need intrinsically safe radios. for interoperability with cellular and military users (this work is suspended at this time) • develop a wide band data solution. Key Management and a standardised vocoder optimised for high noise environments. but continues to be maintained by the various sub groups. and up to 538kbit/s with 64QAM in a 150kHz channel. either TETRA or DMR may be the best match for the user requirements. In the infrastructure products. with wide area capabilities and encryption. Another would be a system for a regional bus operator or transport executive (PTE). Ultimately. For Germany there have been developments in the use of a SIM card (from TETRA SIM to U-SIM). as distinct from cellular users. through the general business user (such as a hotel or shopping centre). Small commercial users such as a building site or local plumbing company may not be able to justify a 25kHz TDMA solution like TETRA (on cost or spectrum grounds).

which details an FDMA licence exempt solution Differential Quadrature Phase Shift Keying – robust modulation used by the TETRA standard EMC and Radio Spectrum Matters – an ETSI Technical Committee (TC) European Telecommunications Standards Institute – a recognised European Standards Organisation. before allocating a channel Public Access Mobile Radio – a shared access radio network used for commercial purposes Press and Talk Call Set Up – a call set up mechanism where the user presses a button.com AMD0029A .f. Manchester. television.Glossary Term bps DIIS DMR dPMR DQPSK ERM ETSI Gloss Bits per second – measurement of transmission rate Digital Information Interchange Signalling – previous standard targeting digital radio standard for professional business radio users Digital Mobile Radio – standard targeting licence-exempt and licensed professional mobile radio market A standard created by the DMR working group. generating globally applicable standards for ICT Federal Communications Commission – the US government agency responsible for regulating interstate and international communications (radio. and is then allocated a channel Personal digital assistant – a handheld computer device Packet Data Protocol – a means of sending data where the data to be sent is broken down into short packets Professional mobile radio – a radio communication network used by professional or commercial users Quadrature amplitude modulation – a modulation scheme which passes data by changing the amplitude of two signals Radio frequency Time-division multiple access – a system where access to the radio channel is divided into time slots. and the user uses a specific frequency Frequency-shift keying – type of modulation for DMR air interface that provides two bits per symbol Interoperability Process – test sessions run by the TETRA Association for suppliers to check terminals against infrastructure Intrinsically Safe – a means of ensuring a radio terminal can be operated in a hazardous environment. TDMA TEDS TETRA TETRA2 TG Contact Us: For further details please contact us at: Analysys Mason 5 Exchange Quay. including TEDS Task Group – an ETSI standards group reporting into a technical committee FCC FDMA FSK IOP IS LIP MPT 1327 NAP OACSU PAMR PATCS PDA PDP PMR QAM r. wire. M5 3EF on +44 (0)161 877 7808 or email enquiries@analysysmason. where explosive vapour may be present Location Information Protocol – air interface optimised application for location services Signalling standard for trunked private land mobile radio systems Net Assist Protocol – air interface optimised application for location services Off Air Call Set Up – a call set up mechanism where the system checks for the presence of the called party radio. incorporating a number of enhancements. satellite and cable) Frequency division multiple access – a system where access to the radio channel is divided into discrete frequencies. and users operate in specific slots TETRA Enhanced Data Services – this update adds a wide band data capability to TETRA Terrestrial Trunked Radio – an European open digital trunked radio standard defined by ETSI for the PMR market Second release of TETRA (2005).

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